Archive for November, 2012

Working to make tomatoes tastier

Last week, researchers from UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences discovered an enzyme that makes tomatoes better flavored for consumers.

The enzyme, dubbed CXE1, is produced by the fruit as it ripens. Its role is to inhibit the production of acetate esters, chemicals that ruin the taste of tomatoes in consumer studies.

The researchers, led by Harry Klee of the UF horticultural sciences department, are looking for a few key enzymes that can be manipulated through the breeding or genetic modification of tomatoes. Klee believes CXE1 could be one of those few, according to the press release.

This isn’t the first time UF has contributed to making tastier tomatoes. The Tasti-Lee tomato line was developed with the help of the university.

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Floridians optimistic about economic recovery

The monthly evaluation for October by UF researchers has found that Floridians are breaking post-recession records for overall positive outlook on the economy. However, in regards to their personal finances, the state is still down. Confidence in personal finances compared to last year are down 3 points while confidence in their position a year from now dropped by 2 points.

It’s an important outlook just a few days before election night, where post-recession confidence bodes well for Obama. Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center, attributed the falling personal finance confidence to the presidential debates and the upcoming “fiscal cliff” – when poorly-looked-upon federal budget cuts and tax increases will be decided unless Congress approves another procedure.

This month’s results can be found here at the Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

Invasive lionfish may be here to stay

University of Florida researchers have spent the last year conducting a study on the process and costs of removing the invasive lionfish species from Florida’s waters. The result is less than stellar: control can only be kept in specific, targeted areas and with lots of manpower.

The lionfish eats a lot, and has an appetite for native Florida sport and food organisms like grouper and shrimp. It’s gradual spread into the Gulf of Mexico is worrisome, as there are many seagrass nurseries that could be devastated by a large lionfish population.

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The researchers used derbies, essentially free-for-all lionfish fishing periods, for divers and snorkelers. They then studied the derby results and the effect they had on lionfish populations.

What they found was that extensive fishing produced smaller lionfish. While that’s a good sign for grouper, who are vulnerable to the larger lionfish, it could be a threat to the shrimp populations.

This is just one in a string of stories about the effects of invasive species on Florida plants and animals, including those of the Burmese python and kudzoo plant.

2013 National Association of Science Writers conference will be in Gainesville

 

This is looking forward a bit, but the National Association of Science Writers will be hosting its main conference of 2013 at the University of Florida. The conference will expose many University of Florida museums and laboratories to all levels of science writers, as well as host a number of talks by UF researchers and lecturers. Expect some great updates and photos here in addition to me live tweeting of events @APKays